When an area starts to become digital it’s usually pretty quiet, almost nothing happens. In retrospect, we instead tend to claim that the area exploded. But we don´t here any explosions. So how do you know whats actually going on, right now, in the E-learning field? And how should you care? Here is the answer.
On the one hand, it could rightly be argued that the development of the digital education world is very slow. We’ve been talking about it for a long time. So why is nothing happening?
Well, you might just have adapted to Zoom. But, come one: that´s all? Your laptop did not explode when you enrolled.
On the other hand, it could be argued that this field is growing more than ever. Just take a moment for these relatively fresh numbers. It is, in its own way, completely mind blowing…
There is now 300+ listed Ed-tech companies. 45 of them with a market cap greater than 1 US billion.
16 US billion VC in the Ed-tech- industry in 2020. 32 times more than year 2010.
MOOCs, of today: About 350 million people use them globally (but no one knows the real number, could be much higher). And none of them even existed 10 years ago.Source: Holonic
That’s pretty much exactly what this area looks like right now. A little and a lot, at the same time. Calm and confused, at the same time.
It is well known that if you're in the middle of a tornado, it can be as quiet as ever before. But if you end up on its outskirts, it can be messy. And at the same time it can be really calm a bit further away from it.
How, then, are we to do, if we want to understand what is really going on? A not entirely easy question to answer as easily as possible – many are trying right now, few succeeding. But at least two things can be said:
- In order to understand a messy process, you gain by taking some distance to it, looking at it a bit from the side. Both geographical and temporal distance can come in handy. Therefore, when you hear someone speaking out about this area right now, you should consider: Do they have distance, in space, and not the least time, or not? Or: can they be trapped, even completely engulfed, either by the mess, or by the calm?
- A messy process is, in itself, rarely particularly interesting, as long as you do not think you have to stand in the middle of the unsettled and risk of getting hurt (which can happen, if you are a little unlucky, or don´t look up from your desk), or; seriously think that you can gain by clearing around in the middle of mess (a risky tactic, often only suitable for the risk-takers). Instead, it is what the world looks like after the process itself that you can gain by trying to get the hang of. You don’t just want to survive right now, do you?
What, then, can you see, right now, if you are trying to actively decide to adopt just such a perspective in the field of E-learning? Here are some suggestions…
- The demand for education – or rather; help for learning (the difference can be enormous) – has just been constantly growing over the last hundred years. There is no limit to how big this market could be, and it is already gigantic. So even though the area is growing significantly right now, we can’t see the end of that journey, because it has no end. It means concretely: the space for many to take part in the cake will, continue, to grow. So, you don’t necessarily have to compete with others, not the least if you choose areas that others, right now, don’t seem to care much about. On the contrary: collaborating with others can be an unusually great idea at this moment.
- However, this does not mean that all forms of education will have a demand in the future. And even if an area comes with demand, that doesn’t mean it will be, economically speaking, profitable to engage in (someone saying they want something doesn’t necessarily mean someone would be prepared to pay for it as well). And that’s always been the case. In addition; some areas become, sooner or later, commonplace for most people, and therefore it becomes almost a bit like “free goods”. Concrete: If you have decided to be active in a knowledge market, you constantly gain by developing your own knowledge, and learning a little “more” than everyone else. Why else would a “teacher” be needed?
- It can be expected that education, in areas that people will consider important/interesting/exciting/fun to be able to learn in the future, and which at the same time can be a little difficult to learn all by yourself, will be able to become profitable… if, you yourself are good at them and learn to know how to help others learn the area.
The development we’re seeing in the E-learning area right now is messy, to put it mildly messy – you can see it if you try to look a bit around you. New solutions are emerging, new platforms, new startups, like mushrooms out of the ground. And there is no chance, for anyone, of creating a complete overview of everything that is happening. In fact, trying to play “short-term smart” right now can be harder than ever.
But you can know: that if you as an individual “teacher” focus on becoming genuinely knowledgeable in an important, and relatively difficult, area, and also become genuinely good at helping others learn that area quickly, fun, a lot, and deeply… you have a good chance for a prosperous future.
My suggestion is simple…
If you are a teacher right now: decide where you want to be, say, 5 years from today, and focus on your content and the digital solutions, services and platforms that you can help you get there.Skip everything else.
Then don’t think the world of education will remain unchanged. So, sit for God’s sake not still.
Instead, assume that this world is, in fact, about to change fundamentally, even if there are no explosions in front of you, neither right now nor later. Therefore, learn so many new things you only have time for per day, both regarding the content you like to “teach”, and about completely new ways of doing “it” – try it out, experiment a lot.
Stay genuinely curious about the technologies that are now emerging that can help you to do just that.
If one wants to make a living helping others develop, it has always been of value being interested in developing oneself.